R-MC opens doors to Sweet Briar students

On Feb. 28, Sweet Briar College’s board of directors made the decision to close its doors on Aug. 25 because of financial challenges that have been plaguing the all female college.


“This is a sad day for the entire Sweet Briar College community,” SBC board chair Paul G. Rice stated on the College’s website.


“The board closely examined the College’s financial situation and weighed it against our obligations to current and prospective students, parents, faculty and staff, alumnae, donors and friends.


“We voted to act now and cease academic operations responsibly, allowing us to place students at other academic institutions, to assist faculty and staff with the transition and to conduct a more orderly winding down of academic operations,” Rice said.


Since this decision, Sweet Briar students and faculty have been working diligently to make sure that current underclassmen and recently accepted freshmen are able to transfer to a different institution for the upcoming academic year. R-MC has made an agreement with Sweet Briar to accept their students in the fall.


“Sweet Briar recently invited Randolph-Macon to become another ‘teach-out’ college option for their students,” R-MC Director of Admissions Anthony Ambrogi said. “They initially made agreements with five colleges.


Since the announcement, they have reached out to a few more, including us.


“To put it simply, R-MC will allow any Sweet Briar student who is in good standing at the end of the year to enroll here to complete their degree, if they choose to do so,” Ambrogi said.


“We offer them financial assistance similar to what they received at Sweet Briar, and we will work with them generously on transfer credit—Sweet Briar’s curriculum is very similar to ours.”


Ambrogi also said R-MC will work with rising seniors that are transferring from Sweet Briar to make sure they take the courses they need to graduate on time.


Concerns have surfaced about what would happen if R-MC were in Sweet Briar’s place, but the R-MC administration has been able to guarnatee that we are not in any position to close our doors soon.


“I know some students have expressed concerns about whether something like this could happen at R-MC,” Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Lauren Bell said.


“I want to make sure that students know that Randolph-Macon College has taken significant steps to make sure that we will not find ourselves in the same situation that Sweet Briar finds itself in.


The College’s Strategic Planning Committee identified many of the demographic and economic issues that led to Sweet Briar’s situation nearly a decade ago, and the faculty, administration and Board of Trustees have taken deliberate steps to make sure that we will not find ourselves in a similar position.


“Randolph-Macon has a long history of working to assist transfer students to complete their education at R-MC,” Bell continued, “and we will do everything we can to make that possible for any students

who come to us as transfers from Sweet Briar.”


Senior Kyle “Kylie” Wash transferred from Sweet Briar College after her freshman year and said she is saddened by the news of Sweet Briar’s closing. While she said it was not the right fit for her, her friends there are thriving and are shocked about the situation they currently face.


“I didn’t feel like it was quite right for me,” Wash said. “My friends, however, thrived there. There really is nothing like a women’s college education. The professors were much like Macon’s in that they were extremely knowledgeable and very committed to the success of their students, and I do miss quite a few of them.


“The campus was incomparably beautiful, and I do miss escaping into those 3,000 acres of woods. The history of the college’s foundation alone is incredibly rich, and hearing it told by members of the Sweet Briar community will move you to tears.


“However, if I know anything about Sweet Briar women, it’s that they don’t go down without a fight,” Wash continued. “Already, alumni have raised over two million dollars to help keep the doors of the college open so that, at the minimum, the currently enrolled students have a chance to graduate.


It would be such an incredible loss to lose such an amazing and unique school, and I hope that they are able to raise enough money to keep the school and the spirit of Sweet Briar alive.”


Wash is encouraging a few of her friends to transfer to R-MC with the hopes they can find their home here as she has. The situation for these students is delicate, so everyone involved is trying to make this transition as easy as possible.


“I think the best thing that our students can do is to be as welcoming as possible for Sweet Briar transfers,” Ambrogi said.


“This has been a traumatic situation for them, and certainly one that none of them expected. They had found a home at Sweet Briar, and now they’re being forced to find a new home and new friends, and that will be an adjustment. We have a great community at R-MC and a tradition of being open and welcoming, and if they can experience that from their first day, it will make the transition that much easier for them.”

-Naoko Branker ’15, Editor-in-Chief

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